Q is for Quarter To Three

Gary U.S. Bonds had a #1 single in 1961 with ‘Quarter to Three’, which took much of the same riffs and melody from the previously recorded instrumental ‘A Night with Daddy “G”’ by the Church Street Five, and by adding some party lyrics and also using a different arrangement, this hit song was born.  This song is an adaptation, which is a musical work which uses most of the music or lyrics of another musical work.  ‘Quarter to Three’ was recorded on the Dance ‘Til Quarter to Three with U.S. Bonds album, and the single also went to #3 on the R&B chart and it got to #7 in the UK.

When Gary Anderson was a teen, he lived in Norfolk, Virginia and he sang street corner Doo Wop with his friends.  One night in 1957, on the corner of Granville Avenue and Park in the Brambleton section of Norfolk, the local record store owner of Frankie’s Birdland on Church Street, Frank Guida stopped by to listen and he liked their singing.  Frank told them that he was thinking about opening up a studio and a record company and he wondered if they would be interested in recording.  It took two years for Guida to open up his recording studio where he was the head of Legrand Records, and by that time the other members of street corner singers had joined the service and Anderson was the only one left.

Guida had achieved initial success in 1959 with ‘High School U.S.A.’, a novelty record sung by Tommy Facenda who just left Gene Vincent’s Blue Caps to go solo.  Guida took Gary down to his studio and he gave him the song ‘New Orleans’, which was a country and western song written by Joe Royster, a guy who worked in the shoe department in one of the major department stores in Norfolk.  In the fall of 1960, ‘New Orleans’ reached #6 on the Billboard Hot 100 and Guida came up with a gimmick to attract the attention of disc jockeys, by crediting the vocal to Gary “U.S.” Bonds and he inscribed the message, “Buy U.S. Bonds” on the sleeves of promotional copies that were sent to the radio stations.
Gary Anderson became Gary “U.S.” Bonds at the age of 19 and many DJs, got the gimmick wrong and thought it was the name of a group.  His next record called ‘Not Me’, which radio stations refused to play, because of lyrics about having fun with a married lady were regarded as lewd.

In 1963, a quartet of female singers the Orlons from Philadelphia recorded ‘Not Me’, and it reached #12 in the US.  Bonds worked magic for his second hit, turning a prosaic instrumental into one of the most rollicking party records of the rock ‘n’ roll era.  In 1961, Guida employed a studio band called Daddy G and the Church Street Five, which recorded an instrumental called ‘A Night With Daddy G’.  Either Guida or Gene Barge the saxophone player known as Daddy G asked Gary to come up with some lyrics for this instrumental which didn’t crack the Hot 100, although it did receive regional air play and made several local charts.  Gary came back in about 15 or 20 minutes with a song and they recorded it.  The song became Gary’s strongest record, a #1 hit that remained on the charts throughout the summer of ’61.  ‘Quarter To Three’ was initially issued as U.S. Bonds but soon changed to Gary U.S. Bonds, along with his subsequent releases.

Joe Royster was Guida’s engineer and songwriting partner and he co-wrote ‘High School U.S.A.’ with Frank Guida and ‘A Night With Daddy G’ along with Gene Barge, and Frank Guida he was also a co-writer on the song ‘Quarter to Three’ with Bonds, Gene Barge, and Frank Guida.  Frank Guida assembled a group of local musicians to form a house band for Legrand’s recording sessions.  Barge and drummer Emmett “Nabs” Shields, pianist Willie Burnell, trombonist Leonard Barks, bass player Ron “Junior” Fairley, made up The Church Street Five.  The band got its name from the church where Shields played in a band, Bishop Grace House of Prayer.  Between 1960 and 1964, the Church Street Five had nine instrumental singles released on Legrand.  The Legrand sound was readily identifiable, the result of multiple overdubs and a live ambience created in the studio by producer Frank Guida.

Following the success of ‘New Orleans’ and ‘Quarter to Three’, Gary joined the premier summer stage show, the Dick Clark Caravan of Stars.  While he was on tour, Gary’s single ‘School Is Out’ climbed to fifth position on the charts and by October 23, and the follow-up ‘School Is In’ reached 28.  In the song ‘Quarter to Three’, The Church Street Five is mentioned, along with Daddy G.  About three months later, the Dovells recorded ‘The Bristol Stomp’, where they sing, “we rocked with Daddy G” and that song went to #2 in October 1961.  Gene Barge would always be better known as Daddy G after this, and he was no longer able to remain virtually unknown because of having his name mentioned repeatedly in song and on the radio.  In June 1961, ‘Quarter to Three’ went to #1, and it stayed there for two weeks.  In this song, Gary U.S. Bonds sings about staying up till quarter to three in the morning, dancing to the swinging sax of Daddy G.  This song has a party vibe, with the sounds of revelry and a rough-hewn production making use of echo and phase shifting.  This gave the song a lot of energy and bucked the trend of the time, which was very smooth recordings.  The joyous horns and vocal chants by The Church Street Five sounded like a rocked-up revival meeting.

Throughout the late 1970s, it was not unusual for Bruce Springsteen and the E Street Band to end one of their marathon three-hour-plus performances with a blistering encore of the 1960 Gary U.S. Bonds hit ‘Quarter To Three’.  Bruce brought Bonds up on stage to perform the song at a time when Bonds had long fallen off the charts. In 1981, when Springsteen was working on material for his follow up to The River, with some mutual friends, guitarist Stevie Van Zandt (Little Steven) and Gary U.S. Bonds together they wrote a comeback collaboration album called Dedication for the celebrated R&B vocalist.  In 1982, Springsteen and his band worked on another album for Bonds titled On the Line.  In 1962, Bonds sued Chubby Checker claiming he stole ‘Quarter To Three’ for his song ‘Dancin’ Party’, and the case was settled out of court.

Don’t you know that I danced, I danced till a quarter to three
With the help, last night, of Daddy G.
He was swingin on the sax like a nobody could
And I was dancin’ all over the room.
Oh, don’t you know the people were dancin’ like they were mad,
it was the swingin’est band they had, ever had.
It was the swingin’est song that could ever be,
It was a night with Daddy G.
Let me tell you now,
I never had it so good
Yeah and I know you never could
Until you get hip with that jive
And take a band like the Church Street Five.
Oh don’t you know that I danced,
I danced till a quarter to three
With the help last night of Daddy G.
Everybody was as happy as they could be
And they were swingin with Daddy G.
Blow Daddy!
Let me tell you now,
I never had it so good
Yeah and I know you never could
Until you get hip with that jive
And take a band like the Church Street Five.
Oh don’t you know that I danced,
I danced till a quarter to three
With the help last night of Daddy G.
He was swingin on the sax like a nobody could,
and I was dancin all over the room
Oh don’t you know the
Dance, do bee wa dah
Dance, do bee wah dah
You can dance, do bee wah dah,
You can dance, dance, dance

12 thoughts on “Q is for Quarter To Three

  1. I was thinking Q quarters and this one came to mind:

    Come to Q quarters
    We’re watching heads
    Of state from here
    Sticking their fabers
    Deep into the empire’s ear

    Molding the conscience
    Severe in every secret sworn
    Now take the cuckoo
    And revel in your image born

    Push through the high ranks
    Bulldoze sacred heritage
    Instinct finds shelter
    Cowering in the foliage

    Detour reservoirs
    Flood a city pretty please
    Lost in petroleum
    Fueled to fill the empty seas

    Obsolete children
    Their populations died en masse
    Concrete civilians
    Statues to the house of rest
    Washing down bodies

    Seems to me a dead-end chore
    Floors me completely
    Beauty drips from every pore
    From every pore
    From every pore

    Come to Q quarters
    We’re watching heads
    Of state from here
    Sticking their fabers
    Deep into the empire’s ear

    Molding the conscience
    Severe and every secret sworn
    Now take the cuckoo
    And revel in your image born
    Source: Musixmatch

    Songwriters: Carl William Bell

    Q Quarters lyrics © Pener Pig Publishing, Universal-songs Of Polygram O/b/o Pener Pig Publishing, Universal – Songs Of Polygram International Inc, Songs Of Polygram Int., Inc.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. I like this one and him…I liked This Little Girl also…
    Jim…have you had anybody complain that some posts are all crammed together with no spaces between paragraphs? I see some of mine like that and some of yours is doing the same thing. When I check it in another browser other than Chrome they are fine.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I have had some complaints which were in my spam folder about esthetic issues, but I just deleted them. None of my regular readers have complained yet. I always view my posts right after I publish them and if they look ok to me, then I figure that I can’t satisfy everyone. Usually these odd complaints say that my posts don’t look good when they are viewed on FireFox or something like that.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. It’s odd…I’ve seen mostly my posts and yours doing it…maybe it’s on my end…if I view them in something else…they are fine.

        Liked by 1 person

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